Summer has finally returned to the Northern Hemisphere of the world, and that means holidays! People from all over the globe are gearing up to take the trip of a lifetime, and after living in lockdown and going through a global pandemic, everyone is ready to put on a pair of sunglasses and board the next flight out.
The three things every Muslim will think of before picking their perfect holiday destination are the food, the views, and the Muslim-friendliness. Food, for obvious reasons, as we need to keep ourselves sustained. The views, again, for obvious reasons because you wouldn’t want to visit a place that isn’t appealing to look at. And the most important criterion is the Muslim-friendliness of the place we visit, which means mosques, smiling faces, and perhaps even a Muslim population. We’ve picked five cities that check all three boxes. They are absolutely breathtaking in scenery and absolutely delectable with their food choices. Oh, and they are extremely Muslim-friendly, too!
1. Istanbul, Turkey
With its historical landmarks and stunning architecture, Turkey is the type of country that will make you feel magical. Containing Roman and Ottoman influences — two incredible empires — Turkey is known for its dynamic nature and mesmerising culture. And Istanbul, the city of wonder, is a collaboration of the eastern and western worlds and is the highlight of the country. From vibrant nightlife to an extensive list of jaw-dropping tourist hubs, Istanbul is the holiday destination you don’t want to miss.
Istanbul boasts the famous Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, two of the world’s most beautiful and largest mosques. It is home to some of the biggest food and clothing markets and bazaars that are bound to leave you with twice as many suitcases as you came with. And with such a rich history, you’re bound to come across several historical landmarks and sites along the way, such as the Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern and the Museum of Turk and Islamic Arts, a must-visit location for everyone with a love for ancient Islamic history. For Turkish drama lovers, you can also take a tour around the graves of Ertugrul and Halime. And during the night, nothing is better than enjoying the beautiful skyline with a hot cup of Turkish coffee and some wonderful slices of traditional Turkish baklava.
2. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A modern and fast-paced city, Kuala Lumpur is the place to go for a boisterous yet subdued adventure in the heart of Malaysia, a majority Muslim country. With its perfect blend of Chinese and Indian cultures, and the traditional Malay culture, Kuala Lumpur is a city that everyone has to visit at least once in their lives.
From skyscrapers and luxurious hotels and buildings to several iconic landmarks like the Petronas Twin Towers, you will never be bored. The city is famous for its massive shopping malls that can fulfill even the most shopaholics’ wishes. Cultural festivals and several tourist attractions scatter the city and while that is definitely one of its beauties, the true beauty of the city of Kuala Lumpur lies in its cuisine. Malay cuisine includes a divine blend of Chinese and Indian cuisines. Also, the streets of Kuala Lumpur are littered with stalls and vendors that pull you in with their aromatic dishes. You’re guaranteed an absolutely stomach-filling food experience.
3. Tokyo, Japan
Japan has always been a country that tourists would do anything to visit. It is the land of anime! But it’s also a country full of culture, traditions, and history. And what makes Tokyo especially, which is the capital of Japan, perfect for a Muslim-friendly summer holiday, is the fact that Japan has begun to make it so easy to find halal restaurants and mosques, thanks to the massive boost in Muslim tourists.
Tokyo is a city full of wonder and breathtaking sites. The Imperial Palace in Tokyo is home to the Imperial Family and is a must-see for any tourist. The streets of Tokyo are lined with ramen and traditional Japanese food stalls that will leave you salivating for more. And there are plenty of halal options everywhere. Of course, we can’t forget the immense hold anime has on the country that created it. Anime characters and merchandise fill the entire city and if you are able to, it might even be worth catching a train ride (only two and a half hours!) to Osaka where you can visit the Universal Studio of Japan which houses monumental anime attractions.
4. Abu Dhabi, UAE
If you’re looking for a wonderful Arabian experience but want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Dubai, then Abu Dhabi is your place to go. With its exquisite industrial architecture and stunning desert and sea sceneries, Abu Dhabi is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And it also boasts dozens of world-famous tourist attractions, including the jaw-droppingly stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque is made of white marble and is a fusion of different design elements that creates a wonderful piece of modern Islamic architecture. It’s perfect for your Instagram feed.
Abu Dhabi also boasts several markets, including gold souks, classy and designer clothing stalls in massive shopping malls, and Ferrari World, a branded theme park that will help you live out your Formula One dream. The Louvre Museum is a museum that traces the entire history of humans and their artistic achievements, from paintings by the legendary Picasso to modern art. Abu Dhabi is a city of grandeur in a subtle yet magnificent way.
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is always on the list of places people want to visit the most. And for good reason. Cape Town is one of the three capital cities of South Africa and is a port city. It is also a city entrenched in Muslim history. With a considerable Muslim population and dozens of mosques and halal food options, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the southern part of Africa.
The city’s number one most popular tourist attraction is Table Mountain, which is a flat-topped mountain that overlooks the entire city so you are guaranteed to get stunning views. The city is also home to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, which lies at the foot of Table Mountain and is the place for gorgeous sunset pictures and picnics. Hundreds of cafes in the city offer international food options and you’re bound to want to take a trip to the city’s various beaches where you’ll get to experience white sand and gleaming seas.
Each city brings its own magic and splendour and while many of us may not be able to visit them at the moment, we can still add them to our bucket lists. Allah SWT has created the world beautifully, and it is only right that we take the time and appreciate the beauty and praise Him for creating it.